Oh the Things We Have Seen: First Impressions of Terra Nova

By Tim Surette

Aug 19, 2011

Terra Nova Fox preview

Just after fall schedules are determined at networks' upfront presentations in late May, major networks send the pilots of their new programs to the media. These previews are not for in-depth review, because many pilots are retooled, recast, and reshot before they officially debut, and the final product might be much different. But that doesn't mean we can't share some basic ideas of what to expect!

The Show: Terra Nova on Fox, which will air Mondays at 8pm. starting on September 26. The series has also been picked up by Sky 1 for broadcast in the UK. (Note: We've only seen the first half of the two-hour premiere.)

The Cast: Jason O'Mara, Stephen Lang, Shelley Conn, Landon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, Allison Miller.

Fox's official logline: "Terra Nova follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in doubt, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past. When scientists unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past—a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time."

Early Intel: As soon as Terra Nova was announced, it became the most "OMG, I have to see this" show of the new season. Steven Spielberg is producing, there are dinosaurs, time-travel, and a gillion dollars in special effects... Terra Nova is a monster project. The series has already encountered a few delays, reportedly because it needed more time in post-production for all the computer-generated effects. The average budget for each episode is allegedly a whopping $4 million, with the pilot estimated at $10 million on the low end. In other words, if this thing bombs, half of Fox is getting pink-slipped.

First Thoughts: I watched this thing on a computer screen in standard definition, and even then it was clear that Terra Nova is more ambitious than anything else that's ever aired on television. And you know what? It looks pretty damned good.

What the series has going for it: Dinosaurs. DINOSAURS! But even thought the dinos will take all the headlines, I was more interested in the set (the show is filmed on-location in Australia). The crew has created an amazing, lush pre-global warming world that looks abso-frickin'-lutely gorgeous. Think Avatar meets the final destination of Up. Also a feast for the eyes is the world everyone's trying to escape from, a Blade Runner-esque dystopia. Let's hope the finished product delivers on all this potential. As far as story goes, there was a huge subplot that caught me off guard and could be one of the main attractions of the show. Plus, Stephen Lang is ideal for the lead role.

Room for Improvement: If you're not too preoccupied by the pretty surroundings, you may notice some "what the?" and "why would someone ever do that?" moments. You know, standard blockbuster kind of stuff. But then a dinosaur comes along and makes you forget such qualms. Also, the first hour really, really, really felt like a pilot trying to cover as many bases as it could, offering a broad look at the series instead of focusing on one single storyline.

The Coolest Part of the Early Version: This preview I saw was released to media a bit later than the rest of Fox's pilots, so it's probably fairly close to a final product. But there were some obvious audio post-production glitches and a few CGI shots that looked about a decade old. I'm confident they'll be cleaned up by the premiere though.

Last Word: Terra Nova has a legitimate shot at being absolutely enormous if it can keep its production values up. And with its tropical backdrop, it'll be an hour-long vacation each week. Bring sunscreen and Allosaurus repellent.

Here's Fox's official trailer for the series:

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+ First impressions of ABC's Apartment 23
+ First impressions of ABC's Suburgatory

Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

  • Comments (65)
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  • IlgtYld Sep 09, 2011

    Short Info;

    85 Mil years ago falls into Cretaceous Period (145.565.5 mil. years ago, to be exact Santonian period - 83.5 85.8 mil. years ago-) which ends with great cataclysmic event ( not all the dinos died though).

    Now few mistakes;

    1. They had such tech and they forgot back in that time Dinos was ruling the world?

    2. Let's say they moved to an island (back in that time safest place was today's Europe -as a land-, less meat eating giants), couldn't they wipe Dinos out in the island before they colonized there?

    3. Future of human lies in 85 mil. years ago? For what? Die with dinos?

    I am sure they have got answer for these questions... Let me answer them for you;

    1 & 2 = There would be no TV Show so hashhh....

    3 = That's another universe, dinos didn't die like this.

    Anyway this is a sci-fi so I would say just go with it and enjoy but damn that's FOX!!!! You will fall in love with the show and they will cancel. I don't see much sense to watch FOX Shows. Instead I prefer to wait till the show will finish or be cancelled, later I prefer to buy DVDs and watch all episodes together (:

  • IlgtYld Sep 10, 2011

    Baah, a person who thinks (s)he is wise. You prove my point already cos you don't have capability to think.

    Let's forget about every other problem like PARADOX, the event which is gonna wipe out almost all life on the planet (I am not sure you know what I am talking about).

    Since they traveled back in time, let's say they created alternative universe and they know life on the planet wouldn't be wiped out by asteroid (in that point if they would see dinos living there, for human kind to live freely, they have to wipe them out themselves) Just let's cut it short and go to the main question;

    They got the tech to go back 85 mil years ago in time but they weren't aware of the dinos or / and can't ensure the security of people?

    Couldn't find a solution for dinos before sending civilians there? They were in rush? For some reason they could go back only 85 mil years ago and their machine showed BLUE SCREEN and they locked there? They were using microzort winzort 2200?

  • Burstrush Sep 10, 2011

    And another who thinks who knows it all lol!

    They go back yes, but then they have around 85million years before the cataclysmic event. So with the tech they have now, how much would the human evolve in 85million year to stop the event? (which u can find on numerous sites)

    They also explained they cant change their current world, since its an alternate world they go to.

    Next time before u post something what u think is mayor plotholes, google it lol

  • Athanatos173 Sep 04, 2011

    1 word : PARADOX.

    There are tons of better ideas that could be used to form a show about trying to save humanity, but of course Spielberg wants to show off the dino's.....So this show is what? Jurassic Park 4?

  • divinebaal Sep 03, 2011

    nahhh.. just out hunting dinos.. nothing new. And don't like the concept.. "a new start"? So they want to send these peeps back in time to make sure I would not extist?

    Nahhh.. a bit of an overkill IMHO

  • geminon Aug 28, 2011

    Definitely going to watch this!!But i hope it doesn't end up having only a ten minute action, like "V" or "falling skies"...

  • janbay37 Aug 26, 2011

    I have admired Stephen Lang's acting since seeing him on Broadway in A Few Good Men. He was great - what shame that they didn't cast him in the movie instead of Jack Nicholson (who is always Jack Nicholson no matter what part he plays).

  • Terentii-Taras Aug 25, 2011

    They've obviously never seen that episode of The Simpsons where the defective toaster sends Homer back in time and he changes the past. Or learned anything from Jurassic Park, which showed that humans and dinosaurs can NOT live side-by-side.

    Global warming and evolutionary timeline aside, wasn't the oxygen content of the atmosphere different in pre--asteroid collision days? (There'd be plenty of oil, though, since it comes mainly from plant matter. But how are they going to refine it...?)

  • JADIZA Aug 25, 2011

    I like,I will watch.If I like terra nova if will be drop by Fox.Fox drop Fringe.

  • papabearkrb Aug 25, 2011

    Can you say Sleestak? And what are they going to be using for any kind of petroleum related product, since the dinosaurs that actually were/are the basis for petroleum HAVEN'T DIED OUT YET!

  • RiverrStone Aug 25, 2011

    Maybe it will do ok. No one should fall too deeply in love with the show, for FOX might break your heart.

  • griz72 Aug 24, 2011

    Dinosaurs have been done to death!

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